Ritual Cleansing in Paganism

A grassy ledge overlooking the ocean and clouded sky in the rain.

With the new moon upon us, now is a wonderful time to cleanse our ritual spaces. Does your cleansing ritual need a buff and shine? Do you just want to know what cleansing a ritual space entails? Maybe you are here because your 14 year old just mentioned it. Sorry to say: for some, it does not actually involve cleaning anything up.

One could theoretically try to convince them to clean more this way, but at some point, they will probably call you on using their faith as a control mechanism. Depending on their personality, that could be quite detrimental to future mental health. Either way, this is Pagan Quills, the segment where we write about paganism. And today, we are contemplating cleansing rituals and ultimately, writing our own.

If you don’t want some examples of things to think about, dig right in. Write up your cleansing ritual, or your ideal cleansing ritual. Anyone wanting something to mull over, let us continue~

Photograph of fluffy clouds hanging over the peaceful harbor, with rocks and grass in the foreground.
Some places are very self-cleansing. My ritual space is one of them.

The Basics of Cleansing

Since a chosen ritual space can be anywhere for some of us, it’s location very much influences how we cleanse something. For example, if your ritual space is a small alter, generally you are cleansing at least the alter and preferably the room or space around it. If your ritual space is outside, generally you are not cleansing or cleaning the great outdoors.

Tools used can also vary. Some pagans prefer to use nothing at all short of a duster and a vacuum and a quick tidy if the space is in need, as that can be a major distraction. Or an outright fire hazard if you happen to like candles or incense. These, too, can be an effective part of cleansing a space. For tough cleansing jobs, burning sage and smudging are also quite common. The smoke helps to clear negativity.

Ultimately, your goal is to both mentally – and often physically – create a boundary from which negative energies and things that will interfere with meditation or ritual are swept. Some liken it to a meditative act, in which you prepare your space for use, while gently pushing out past mental clutter. Spaces can often hold on to things, and they need to be occasionally sent on their way.

Visualization and meditation are common tools in cleansing of one’s space. You essentially visualize all the things that do not need to be in your mental or physical space anymore, and you show them all to the bin or out the door.

Creative Cleansing

Some even mark their boundaries with small shells, stones, or other ritual items. Oftentimes, I have seen this done when a person has a large perimeter in which they are using, or if they are linking their cleansing ritual to another ritual. Ritualception. Perhaps they are casting their circle simultaneously, and the energy worked up from the physical cleaning is being used towards the lot of it, for example.

Create a space in which you are safe, comfortable, and at peace. If you find intrusions that make the space feel uncomfortable, find ways to overcome them, or find another ritual space. Some use music, to drown out the barking dog down the street. To cleanse the air, as it were, of the din outside.

Rain freshens everything up quite regularly.

Cleansing the Self

Of course, one would be amiss to forget cleansing of the self, before and/or after ritual. Some prefer the proverbial soak in the hot tub, others a far crisper, cool shower. Not all meditation and the like will necessarily require a cleansing of the self, however it is one to keep in mind. Some ritual does call for a good cleansing, and while it usually is physical, often they also mean mentally as well.

Similar to the process of cleaning the psychic clutter and junk that has built up since the last time one might have cleansed from one’s home, this can be repeated within the self. Usually a meditation along with the physical action of cleaning oneself, the goal is to let it all go down the drain and away. You just visualize it all running off.

So, now it’s your turn. What would your cleansing ritual be?

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